News / USA

Americans Want Smaller, More Efficient Government

Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, 05 Oct 2010
Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, 05 Oct 2010

Most of the 50 US states have struggled to close budget gaps by reducing public services, raising taxes or borrowing. A new study says Americans want leaner and more efficient government to deal with the budget crises. The survey shows that residents of five key US states share a sense of frustration and urgent desire to reform the budget process.

After the worst recession in 70 years and drastic drops in tax revenue, state governments are scrambling to balance their budgets. In California, lawmakers are working to close a 19 billion dollar shortfall. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last year imposed three-day-a-month furloughs on many state workers as a cost-cutting measure, and a court this week said that, despite a challenge by the workers, the measure is legal.

California was one of the five states in the survey, together with Arizona, Florida, Illinois and New York. Residents of each state face similar problems of high unemployment, a bleak real estate market and reduced tax revenues. Each has seen conflicting demands to raise taxes and save government programs, on one hand, or cut taxes and slash programs, on the other.

Susan Urahn of the Pew Center on the States says researchers see consistent responses from state to state on what the public wants. Four in ten respondents want smaller government, and even more are worried about waste.

"The real question is not how small or how large government ultimately should be, but how state leaders can demonstrate they are reducing waste, making government more efficient, and maximizing returns on taxpayer dollars," she said.

The survey shows that spending cuts are the most popular way to bring budgets under control. But a majority of respondents are willing to pay higher taxes to preserve elementary and high school education, and health services.

Urahn says that schools, health and social services are, in reality, the biggest recipients of state dollars, so that shielding them from cuts will be difficult.

Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California says respondents resist public borrowing, the passing of debt to future generations.

"When it comes to how to close their state's budget gap, more than two thirds of residents in all five states pick spending cuts first," he said. "They prefer tax increases second, and then borrowing."

Voters would like to raise taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, and also raise corporate taxes. But Baldassare says revenue from these sources would do little to close huge budget gaps.

The analysts say the public has a sense of urgency, but is not fully aware of the trade-offs needed to balance a public budget. They say political leaders have a lot of work to do in educating the public about the tough choices they face.

The analysts say that after the election in November, at least half of US states will have first-term governors who will face competing demands from a skeptical public over taxes and spending, and a rigid bottom line in their state budgets.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs